Rhett Pimentel, 17, of Powell, Wyo., a junior at Powell High School, played a major role in founding the “Powell Makerspace,” a high-tech community workshop to give students and other residents of his small town the opportunity to learn about and use modern technology. Rhett, a self-described tech enthusiast, used to “drool” over articles and videos on sophisticated technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters and advanced robotics, “all amazing tools that I would probably never get to see,” he said. But after attending a tech fair in Denver and talking with his middle and high school tech teachers, Rhett became convinced that his town should and could have a new resource for technology utilization and education. “Technology was progressing rapidly,” he said, “and Powell couldn’t fall behind.”
Rhett, local educators and other community members agreed to create a “makerspace,” a place where people can work together with modern technological equipment to design and create things that they couldn’t make on their own. Rhett conducted extensive research on the equipment and tools that the proposed facility should have, worked with others to draw up plans for its operation, and made presentations to solicit donations and forge partnerships. After the Powell Makerspace opened last February in a cottage donated by the local school district, Rhett devoted considerable time to assembling and learning about the new facility’s equipment, and designed and taught classes to educate others. “I am proud to say that even though Powell is small and isolated, community members have access to a plethora of amazing technology at the Powell Makerspace,” he said.